Editor Hamish Kilburn checks back in to The Dorchester to understand how its latest renovation has enhanced the overall guest experience while redefining ‘luxury hospitality’ in London…
The most powerful metaphor one can use when describing the impact of the design transformation inside The Dorchester is ‘taking a walk in a quintessentially English garden’ – one on the doorstep of the hotel, in fact, in Hyde Park. Like any stroll, the journey through the hotel, capturing the landscape as well as the experience, feels authentic, relaxed and connected with nature. Put simply, The Dorchester, post-renovation, is as modern luxury hotels should feel in 2023, and here’s why.
From the friendliest and most heartfelt welcome I have ever received on London’s ‘hotelscape’, which is effortlessly made in between two art pieces by British artists Sophie Coryndon and Christian Furr that hang on either sides of the lobby, to subtle design moments that pop with personality throughout all areas, The Dorchester has emerged from its extensive design haul with character while retaining its ability to stray away from fashion to shelter more of a timeless style that answers confidently to its past as well as present modern traveller demands.
A few years and a pandemic after I first checked in to The Dorchester, the luxury hotel that stands proudly on London’s Park Lane has unveiled a fresh, vibrant and upbeat interior design scheme – and, all of a sudden, my journey becomes less about identifying style and more just sitting back to allow the design to naturally play its role in taking each guests on their own mini adventure of escapism.
With its commitment to reinventing and reinterpreting traditions for a new era, the hotel’s interiors seamlessly blend the 1930s glamour that runs deep in its DNA of the property with a contemporary authority. Yet, the interior designer, Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR), has deliberately opted to depict a whimsical, dare I say it romantic, interpretation of the era over a textbook accurate reflection.
The design aptly draws inspiration from the hotel’s prized position in Mayfair, situated on the fringe of Hyde Park. The hotel’s charming eccentricities are playfully imitated through a fresh elixir of colours and materials to enhance the heritage of the property.
The first phase of the property’s head-to-toe renovation was unveiled in December 2022, and included the entire forecourt, entrance, lobby, The Promenade and Artists’ Bar – all designed by PYR, while the legendary and glamorous James Bond-inspired Vesper Bar (formerly The Bar at The Dorchester) was transformed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, and now shelters a atmospheric and inviting bar for both guests and locals alike.
While select design studios were tasked with reimaging the interiors, ReardonSmith Architects, led by Director Jonny Sin, took on the role of overseeing all aspects of the design, architecture and construction. Sin described the hotel to me recently as ‘one of London’s greatest hotel gems’ – I have to agree. In an interview with Hotel Designs at the tail end of last year, the architect aired the importance of design in the hotel’s future. “A hospitality survey that was undertaken in Q4  revealed that investors considered architecture and design to be a priority service over the next 12 months,” he said. “This is very promising.”
One of the major transformations in the public areas, aside from the whole space being opened up, is the artwork, exclusively created by British artists. The art selected to hang on the walls has been blown up to create a more relaxed experience. As a result, The Promenade, which is adorned by vibrant masterpieces and is complete with cornered blue sofas and flavescent yellow and deep pink chairs that sit neatly around dark oak wood tables, now feels inviting to walk through – it simply spills out from the lobby.
While the first phase of the design generated a wave of noise, I have been patiently waiting until now for BECK, the contractors on the project, to complete the first cluster of newly designed guestrooms and suites, so that I can fully immerse myself back into the luxury hotel and understand the relationship between private and public areas. Having understood the ‘before’ through a clear lens, I was keen to explore exactly how, through the power of design, collaboration and craftsmanship, The Dorchester has protected its legacy and status while also ushering in a new contemporary air into its interiors.
Considered to many as the highlight as well as the most sensitive part of the overall renovation, the redesign of both guestrooms and suites includes new furnishings, technology enhancements and the even splash of colour. The design elements that have been added preserve the hotel’s luxurious reputation, but allow it also to, if you like, play as well as perform as a modern hotel that has an iconic status. The suites especially feel more like luxury apartments than part of a hotel.
Guests enter to be greeted into a striped corridor, which is a subtle nod to the hotel’s iconic canopies seen from the street. Each guestroom and suite feature light-filled spaces, which have been thoughtfully designed in various colourways – leaf green, rose fog pink, heather blue and lemon yellow – all inspired, again, by an English garden. Spanish Alarwool custom woven carpets adorn both the rooms and corridors, and are in keeping with the hotel’s signature carpet style. Despite being sensitive to the building’s legacy and style, there is no detail that feels restraint from creativity, which is largely due to the quality materials and products specified throughout.
Recognised for its classic English appeal, Colefax and Fowler’s floral fabrics, for example, enhance the walls and headboards in all guestrooms, while soft furnishings from Dedar give each room a layer of exclusivity and a residential feel.
Meanwhile, the bathrooms, which still feature the ‘deepest baths in London’, are as I remembered them; large, cladded with marble and warmly inviting, complete with ‘his-and-hers’ basins and oversized showers.
There is no doubt about it, the latest renovation sheltered inside The Dorchester marks a significant milestone for Dorchester Collection, which is about to welcome its 10th property in its global portfolio, debuting its first hotel in Dubai.
In London, the design team’s ability to balance both 1930s glitz with modern touches has, if anything, enhanced the overall guest experience immeasurably to feel both residential in style and comfort, whilst embracing the defining elements of the property’s past, including British stage designer Oliver Messel’s signature lavish style. It is this balance that sets the hotel apart from its neighbours and futureproofs its style for many years to come.
Main image credit: Mark Read